Sunday, October 5, 2008

Making Vietnam the Issue

Democrats are still sometimes called “the Left” by the Right and, insofar as there is a difference, the mainstream media. If there were anything to the description, if the Democratic Party were even a pale approximation of a genuine party of the Left, then instead of praising John McCain’s “heroism” in the Vietnam War, Democrats would have long ago taken him to task for his Vietnam days. After all, before he ended his military exploits in a Vietnamese prison (where he “broke” before he didn’t break), he fought on the wrong side, bombing and napalming and otherwise participating in the murder and mayhem. As a not very independent minded son and grandson of Admirals, he may not exactly have gone there by choice. But he was no conscript; not even an economic conscript like most “troops” today.

[In several entries I’ve noted how unlikely it would have been for, say, a veteran of the Waffen SS to rise similarly in post-War German politics. In Germany after World War II, defeat was so total that no one could deny its reality. In Vietnam – and now in Afghanistan and Iraq –defeat is real but the reality is not as salient. Thus, with the help of a compliant media and a Democratic Party as committed as their rivals to maintaining America’s imperial role, there is “plausible deniability” or at least there still might be if the Bush wars are allowed to drag on. This seems to be Obama’s plan, even as he depicts himself and is thought to be a peace candidate. It should surprise no one that it is McCain’s plan.]

Nevertheless, despite Obama et. al., Vietnam has found its way into the current Presidential campaign – thanks to the party of the (much) Greater Evil. The messenger is Sarah Barracuda, though she may not understand that it is the ghost of Vietnam that she conjures up when, on her handler’s instructions, she looks straight into the camera and, while praising American “exceptionalism” (which she seems to think means “patriotism”) in phony folksy cadences, makes former Weatherman (later Weatherperson) Bill Ayers the new Willie Horton. So long as she can rant to friendly audiences, free from “filters” asking her ever so gently to make sense (something neither Gwen Ifill nor Joe Biden made her do in the “debate” that, according to all the polls, she “lost” even so), she can get away with it – at least to the satisfaction of her “base.”

Evidently, John McCain is too dishonorable and unprincipled to have a genuinely conservative temperament; and the bizarre universe Sarah Palin inhabits is off the political map. But it should be remembered that real conservatives have a sense of the order of things, a sense of natural hierarchy. I confess I do too. Could it be, God forbid, that there’s a conservative in me waiting to come out? Why else am I so offended by Palin’s gosh darn mindless babbling? It reaches a kind of apogee when she speaks of former “terrorist” Bill Ayers – as if she has any idea what the Weather Underground was about. Who’d have thunk it? And, for that matter, why him? Why not, for example, Bernadine Dohrn, his wife? She was much more conspicuous and colorful back in the day. Didn’t Obama know her too? I probably have met Bill Ayers, though I have no recollection of it. But, if I may be permitted to plagiarize (borrow from) Lloyd Bentsen, “I did know plenty of Weathermen (persons), many were my friends, and I must say to you, Governor, as one who does have a sense of order and hierarchy that you are not fit to…” [In my conservative gentleman persona I must forbear from identifying the part of the Weatherperson anatomy that she is not fit to wipe.]

Thus it is the GOP, not the POP, the Party of (pelosiite) Pusillanimity, that has made an issue of Vietnam. Since the Democrats won’t fight back, it’s time for the constituencies they’re about to betray (again!) to do it for them. Wherever that team of “mavericks” – the doddering geezer maverick and the adorable ignoramus maverick – show their faces, we should greet them with a modified chant from the golden days of yesteryear: “Ho, Ho, Ho Chi Minh, we kicked your sorry asses once, we’ll do it again!”

But not to get on the wrong side of the Obamamaniacs, whom we’ll need to win over after Obama wins and the real struggle begins, perhaps we should add – “and, oh yes, support the troops.” It would be no more incongruous than Joe Biden’s declarations of love for John McCain, ably parodied last night on Saturday Night Live.

Note: For reasons not to love John McCain, should more than the obvious ones be necessary, I highly recommend Tim Dickinson’s account in Rolling Stone of “maverickness” McCain-style.

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